• Room 01.006 - 26 University Square

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am open to PhD applications on militias, political violence, terrorism, counterinsurgency and related areas.


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Research Interests

Dr Andrew Thomson is a Senior Lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast and a Fellow at the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice. His research interests include pro-government militias and civilian defence forces, dynamics of violence in civil war, counterinsurgency and "irregular" warfare, state violence and the Colombian peace process. These broad research interests are divided into three strands. First, he focuses on the role of militias and mercenaries in US foreign policy.  His book, Outsourced Empire: How Militias, Mercenaries and Contractors Support US Statecraft, examined US support to various non-state armed forces in US interventions around the world. Secondly, Andrew examines the effects of mobilizing civilian self-defence forces on the dynamics of violence during civil conflict as well as on the long-term effects on peace processes. He is specifically interested in how mobilizing civilians ain counterinsurgency settings, such the Sons of Iraq program, impact insurgent targets of violence. Finally, he also focuses on the current peace process in Colombia in the context of multiple armed groups. He recently completed a project funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund on how FARC members’ interactions with other armed organizations influenced their disarmament process. He is currently developing a project examining ex-combatant dialogues towards reconciliation and conflict transformation.

Andrew is on the governing council of the Conflict Research Society (CRS), running the CRS Book of the Year Prize.

He is open to considering supervision of PhD projects around those three research focuses or more broadly on in the areas of conflict analysis, political violence, terrorism, counterinsurgency, and US foreign policy.



Dr. Andrew Thomson is the convenor/director of the MA in Violence, Terrorism and Security

He teaches on a variety of classes at the undergraduate and post-graduate levels:

PAI 2055 Security and Terrorism

PAI 2065 Peace and Conflict Studies

PAI 3038 US Foreign Policy

PAI 7007 Global Terrorism

PAI 7028 Violence, Terrorism and Security

He also contributes regularly to a variety of other classes in areas such as conflict intervention, conflict transformation and peace processes, international security, international relations, American politics, among others and specialist classes such as at the Institute for Global Peace Security and Justice Summer School. 

He regularly supervises MA and undergraduate dissertations on terrorism, ISIS and jihadist organizations, state violence, counterinsurgency, negotiations to end armed conflict, peace processes, among many other related topics. 

In he was awarded a Teaching Award 2015 - Student-nominated category of Queen’s University Belfast Teaching Awards 2015 and also received a Post Graduate Certificate in Higher Education (PGCHE) in 2012.


Andrew was born in Oxford, UK, is of Irish descent but was raised in Colombia and the United States before returning to England for university. In 2007 he received BA in Politics and International Relations (1st class honours) from University of Kent and in 2008 an M.A. in International Relations from University of Sussex. He then completed a PhD at the University of Kent in International Relations in 2013, moving to Queen’s University Belfast shortly afterwards.  Andrew is fluent in Spanish and a basic understanding of Portuguese, French, and Italian.

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Research Output

  • Venezuela failed raid: US has a history of using mercenaries to undermine other regimes

    Thomson, A., 18 May 2020, The Conversation.

    Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

    Ethnic Conflict and Militias

    Thomson, A., 01 Sep 2019, The Palgrave Handbook of Ethnicity. Ratuva, S. (ed.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

  • FARC Insecurity During Demobilization and the Credible Commitment Problem

    Thomson, A., 23 Nov 2019, (Unpublished).

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

    The Ties that Bind: Ethnicity, Pro-Government Militia and the Dynamics of Violence in Civil War

    Abbs, L., Clayton, G. & Thomson, A., 12 Nov 2019, In : The Journal of Conflict Resolution . p. 1-43

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 2 Citations (Scopus)
    121 Downloads (Pure)


    Teaching Awards 2015

    Thomson, Andrew (Recipient), 2015

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

  • Activities

    Oxford University Press (Publisher)

    Andrew Thomson (Peer reviewer)

    20 May 2020

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPublication peer-review

    Loyola University Visit

    Andrew Thomson (Recipient)

    09 Jan 2020

    Activity: Other activity typesHosting a school group or open day

    Journal of Peace Research (Journal)

    Andrew Thomson (Peer reviewer)

    10 Jan 2020

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPublication peer-review

    Third World Quarterly (Journal)

    Andrew Thomson (Peer reviewer)

    03 Jul 2020

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPublication peer-review

    Civilian Defense Militias: The Dynamics of Violence of Armed Civilian Resistance

    Andrew Thomson (Organiser)

    27 Feb 202028 Feb 2020

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course


    COIN through the Eyes of Bourdieu: American legitimation practices in Iraq 2007-2009

    Author: Brammer, A., Jul 2020

    Supervisor: Thomson, A. (Supervisor) & Bryan, D. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Multinational Corporations: Friends or foes of peace? Multinational Corporations and state capture in Colombia

    Author: Espejo Fandino, F., Jul 2020

    Supervisor: Thomson, A. (Supervisor) & Andreasson, S. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    State-Business Relations and Economic Transition in the Modern World-System: A Comparative Study of South Africa and Zimbabwe

    Author: Baran, S., Jul 2020

    Supervisor: Andreasson, S. (Supervisor) & Thomson, A. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy